LOIPR Turkey: Call to ensure engagement with UNHRC
On 3 August 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Committee adopted the list of issues prior to the submission of the second periodic of Turkey. Earlier this year, Lawyers for Lawyers filed a submission on the list of issues prior to reporting (LOIPR) to inform the Committee about the situation of lawyers in Turkey. In a joint letter, we called upon the Human Rights Committee to keep Turkey as a priority on the agenda.
For years, lawyers in the Turkey have been unable to fulfil their professional duties effectively, due to external pressure and improper interference. In light of this, our submission highlights five main issues: improper restrictions of lawyers, harassment and intimidation of lawyers, prosecution of lawyers, violations of freedom of expression of lawyers, and increasing pressure on the bar associations.
On 3 August 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Committee adopted the list of issues prior to the submission of the second periodic of Turkey. Lawyers for Lawyers welcomes the questions raised by the Committee with regards to the position of lawyers in Turkey.
In relation to access to justice, right to a fair trial and the independence of lawyers, the Committee requested Turkey to provide additional information about the status of amendments to the Law on Lawyers that allow for multiple bar associations in provinces, including explaining the rationale for such changes. The Commitee also asked Turkey to provide information about reports of the summary dismissal of thousands of judges, prosecutors and lawyers following the attempted coup in 2016. Furthermore, the Committee has asked Turkey to respond to allegations of the systematic denial of the right to a fair trial, particularly in cases involving terrorism related charges, as well as the denial of defendants’ right choose and meet privately with their legal counsel and be present at their trial. The Committee also requested Turkey to respond to reports of the death of lawyer Ebru Timtik, who died after a hunger strike protesting the right to a fair trial.
With regards to the allegations of harassment, intimidation and threats against human rights defenders within Turkey, the Committee asked Turkey to respond to reports of human rights defenders who have faced criminal charges for their work and the exercising of their Covenant rights, and provide updated information on all such individuals, including lawyers from the Asrin law firm, lawyers from Halkın Hukuk Bürosu (Peoples’ Law Office), lawyers from the Law firm of the Oppressed (EHB) and/or member of lawyers organization ÇHD (Progressive Lawyers Association). Additionial information was also requested about whether there are plans for the immediate release of those lawyers still detained.
Turkey now has one year to respond to the questions raised by the Committee in the LOIPR. In light of this, Lawyers for Lawyers and other organizations called upon the members of the Human Rights Committee to keep Turkey as a priority on their agenda and to consider relevant actions should Turkey delay its answer to the LOIPR beyond one year. Read the letter here.
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